Amadeus launches NDC-X to create better journeys for travellers through the best use of technology

1 March, 2018

As a leading technology partner for the global travel industry, Amadeus IT Group has launched a dedicated programme for New Distribution Capability (NDC) called NDC-X, which it believes will help drive the industrialisation of NDC and ensure its success for all travel players.

NDC holds huge promise for the travel industry and will enable companies - from airlines to travel agencies - to evolve travel distribution and merchandising as they moves towards increased personalisation. It will enable them to use merchandising techniques to drive new revenues and business opportunities, while meeting the changing needs of travellers which expect brands to know them and adapt offers accordingly.

The NDC-X programme will bring together experts from across Amadeus' business, and will focus on practical use cases of the standard and will, according to Amadeus, adopt a test and learn approach to deliver improved capabilities for the industry. The NDC-X program is a continuation of Amadeus' previous work towards the digitalisation of the industry and the creation of commercial possibilities to build on NDC.

Gianni Pisanello, who has held a variety of leadership roles within Amadeus' airlines business, both on the IT and the distribution side, will lead the new NDC-X program. "We are at a critical moment in terms of the development of the standard, and the readiness of the industry," he says.

"For NDC to truly take off, we need to create a real standard not only for the protocol itself, but also for how it's implemented. We also need to ensure that it responds to travel seller requirements, and that it has the right economics to drive investment," he adds.

The NDC-X programme is "a strategic priority" for Amadeus as it builds on a strong past year. Consistent growth across all of its business units as well as the success of a diversification strategy contributed to a solid financial performance for Amadeus during 2017 achieving an adjusted profit of EUR1,116.1 million, a +22.5% growth compared to 2016. Revenues increased +8.5%, to EUR4,852.7 million and EBITDA grew +9.7%, to EUR1,865.1 million.

Key developments across its business units in 2017 included the migration of Southwest Airlines' domestic flights to Altéa and new deals with leading carriers in the Airline IT segment, including Air Canada; growth in distribution segment with travel agency air bookings growing across all regions; an increasing Airport IT customer base with new agreements with airports around the world; while hotel brand Premier Inn signed up for two key capabilities (CRS and PMS) of its Hospitality Platform.

TABLE - Amadeus' travel agency air bookings grew consistently across all regions supported by industry growth and an enhancement of 0.6 percentage points in its competitive position. Asia Pacific, with an +11.4% increase and Latin America, with +10.0% were the best performing regionsSource: Amadeus

During 2017, Amadeus signed 55 new contracts or renewals of content agreements with airlines, including TUIfly, Air Canada, WestJet Airlines, Korean Air, Delta Air Lines, Avianca Argentina and several low cost carriers (LCC). Subscribers to Amadeus' inventory can now access over 110 LCC and hybrid carriers' content worldwide with bookings from these operators growing +9% in 2017 compared to the previous year.

The company has also continued to receive interest from our customers in its merchandising solutions and at the close of the year, 143 airlines had signed up to Amadeus Airline Ancillary Services for the indirect channel and 115 had implemented the solution. A total of 66 carriers had contracted Amadeus Fare Families, which allows airlines to distribute branded fares, with 50 of them already implemented.

Amadeus reports that global passengers boarded using its Airline IT suite increased at a double-digit growth rate, fuelled by +7.6% organic growth and carrier implementations on its PSS platforms (either Altéa or New Skies), as well as a consolidation impact from Navitaire passengers boarded.

TABLE - The western Europe and Asia & Pacific regions still account for more than two thirds of Amadeus's total boarded passengers, but major growth in North America has seen that area's share more than double in the past yearSource: Amadeus

Alongside the previously remarked migration of Southwest Airlines' domestic flights to Altéa (the airline began operating its international flights through Altéa in Jul-2014), Malaysia Airlines and Kuwait Airways also implemented Altéa. Air Canada and flybe also signed up to Altéa and other Amadeus solutions. Additionally, Go Air, Viva Air Peru, Andes Líneas Aéreas, TUIfly Belgium and JetSMART were among the carriers that implemented New Skies in 2017.